Today is the 15th anniversary of the founding of the Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators, the Chicago Teachers Union caucus that transformed the union into the powerful force it is today. CTU vice president Jackson Potter reflects on the caucus’s legacy.
Jackson Potter is the vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union.
Before the Chicago Teachers Union went on strike against Rahm Emanuel 10 years ago, corporate reformers were on the march and teachers were on the ropes. The CTU won that strike, beat back neoliberal Democrats, and turned the tide in favor of public education.
Former Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis’s bombastic way of painting the union’s class enemies as out-of-touch corporate hacks was genius political theater, and her commitment to democratic, militant unionism was unflagging. Lewis played an integral role in transforming teachers’ unionism — first in Chicago, then around the country.
The Chicago Teachers Union used strike action to lift up working-class demands that go far beyond traditional collective bargaining. From teachers elsewhere to auto workers, other unions can, too.
If we want to stop the bloodshed in places like Chicago, we need more public investment — not more authoritarian policing.